A dozen volunteer firefighters in Peyton turned in their badges Tuesday night, citing unresolved safety issues with their fire chief. The department was left with Fire Chief Jack Rauer and a handful of volunteer firefighters to cover the Peyton Fire Protection District, according to a release by the district's board.
The mass resignation comes after the district's board on Monday reinstated Rauer from two weeks of paid administrative leave following several accusations that Rauer, the fire chief for nearly two years, was unsafe and put others in danger.
A document obtained by The Gazette outlined concerns ranging from Rauer reportedly leaving patients with probationary firefighters who were not trained paramedics to suspicions that Rauer retaliated against a firefighter by demoting him.
Firefighters also complained that Rauer sped 90-100 mph while responding to two separate calls with firefighters on board.
In a seperate incident, firefighters complained that Rauer ordered three water tenders to run over fire hoses during a structure fire, raising concerns the hoses would rupture, firefighters said.
Mike Deckard, who was the district's assistant fire chief until he resigned Tuesday, said the mass resignation was the only way to force the board to acknowledge the firefighters' concerns, which were first voiced informally to board members six months ago.
"It's really, really sad that it has come to this point," Deckard said. "We're praying to god that nothing happens to anybody in this community because of what we had to do.
"But there comes a point where my safety comes first and my firefighters' safety comes second and the public comes third. That's a firefighters rule."
Board members asked neighboring fire departments for help covering emergency calls, said board president Leon Gomes.
Though he did not comment on the allegations, he said the board felt resuming comfortable returning Rauer to duty.
"We're fully capable of responding to calls and handling anything that comes up," Gomes said. "From that point, our plan is to recruit additional volunteer firefighters and get them trained and in place as soon as we can."
Rauer declined to comment on the specific allegations.
"It kind of shows who's truly dedicated to this department," Rauer said. "We're still a functioning fire department."
Written by The Gazette
Courtesy of YellowBrix - YellowBrix